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MACA Book Review
Play 1.b3! Play 1.b3!
by: Ilya Odessky

Price: $26.95
ISBN: 978-90-5691-256-7
Format: Book 258pp.
Publisher: New In Chess

Reviewed by: Chess Horizons Editor Mark Donlan
Recommendation: Recommended

Subtitled “The Nimzo-Larsen Attack: a Friend for Life,” this book has an auspicious beginning, where the author gives an overview of his first book (devoted to 1…e6 and 2…b6) and criticizes it for its perceived failings.

He writes, “…the mistake made by almost all first-time authors is that they think their reader is more stupid than themselves, and consequently, they subconsciously strive to explain every detail and spoon-feed the reader. There is no need to do this. The reader is as much a participant in the book as is the author.”
He jokingly refers to this volume as an “anti-monograph,” because of the way the material is presented. For instance, chapters 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, and 11-15 all pertain to 1…e5, whereas chapters 6, 10, 16-18, 21 and 22 cover 1…d5, while other lines are included in the remaining chapters. Odessky claims that this was done “purely to protect the reader.”
He jumps “about like a sparrow from branch to branch” because that is how chess books are normally read. No one reads through a book systematically from cover to cover; instead, they open the book at random and read a certain section and then return at a later date and do the same. Thus, he wants “the reader to be able to open [the book] to any page, and not have to remember where he stopped reading it last time.”
Not only is Odessky refreshingly honest in his approach and evaluations, he is also entertaining and candid. For example, chapter two begins with the sentence, “This variation is based on a misunderstanding. It is also the product of stupidity.” The book ends, after 244 pages, with the exhortation, “Dear readers! Play 1.b3. Probably it is not so good. But it’s so much fun…”

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